Our reviews of Married With Children: The Complete Second Season (published April 21st, 2004), Married With Children: The Complete Third Season (published March 30th, 2005), Married With Children: The Complete Fourth Season (published October 26th, 2005), Married With Children: The Complete Fifth Season (published August 9th, 2006), and Married With Children: The Most Outrageous Episodes Volume 1 (published November 6th, 2003) are also available.
When is says The Most Outrageous Episodes on the cover, the episodes in question better make me laugh more than once per episode.
Married…with Children, being one of the two major shows that helped define the Fox broadcasting network in the late '80s, early '90s, gets a sub-par treatment from the DVD gods at Columbia TriStar Home Video. Compared to its sister show at the time of both of their inceptions, The Simpsons, The Simpsons has enjoyed not one, but two complete box sets of their first two seasons, while Married…with Children languishes in episodic limbo.
Facts of the Case
"A Man's Castle"
"Have You Driven A Ford Lately"
"If Al Had A Hammer"
"Who'll Stop The Rain?"
I was never a great fan of this show when it first aired. It was raunchy, low-class, slightly titillating, and filled with more creamy innuendo than a six inch cannolli. But despite all these great things that it had going for it, I never found myself watching it often. Oh yes, now I remember why, because my mother threatened to wash my eyes out with boiling soap if she caught me anywhere near the show. My childhood aside, Married…with Children was a groundbreaking show when it first aired. And by "groundbreaking" we mean digging a hole, and kicking culture down it until it fit snuggly a notch or seven from where it was before, perched somewhere in the clouds.
And the money just poured in.
It was so successful that there are too many shows to list that copied the same formula, some of which are still on the air today.
Cultural diatribe aside, this is the second DVD release of the Married…with Children franchise. Like its predecessor, volume two does not offer the complete season, which has become the standard and preferred format of television series releases, but instead is a "Best of" disc with sporadic episodes ranging across all the seasons. The best way of figuring out when each particular episode first aired (aside from looking at the copyright but that's cheating), is determining how old Bud is, and who Marcy is married to. The episodes are jumbled up on the viewing order, so that won't help you at all.
Now let's play a game called, "Where's the Outrage?" Since this release claims to contain "The Most Outrageous Episodes!" it should be fairly easy to spot.
Plot wise, I found 2 1/2 of the five episodes funny. "Raingirl" and "A Man's Castle" were well constructed, considering when they were first aired, and contained enough jokes and situation comedy that could easily translate into a modern day sitcom. "If Al Had A Hammer" and "Who'll Stop The Rain" were only moderately funny, parts good, the rest bad. "Have You Driven A Ford Lately" utterly put me to sleep. Overall, not a good showing, I've watched Super Bowl half-time shows that were more outrageous than this bunch. The show ran for many seasons, I know there are funnier episodes than the five that are on this release. Where are they? DVD "Outrage Level" = low, my "Outrage Level" = low.
Okay, so the episodes are a tad weak, maybe if we check the commentaries for each episode we might learn something about why they were chosen, or some other interesting factoid. But what's this? No commentaries? Not even one? Well that's not very nice, now is it? DVD "Outrage Level" = low, my "Outrage Level" = medium.
But the picture looks good at least, right? I mean, it does say "Digitally Mastered Audio and Video" on the back cover. Well, it sounds good. The witty banter comes out crisp on Dolby Digital Surround, but the picture quality looks like the early 1990s. I'm highly skeptical that anything but the dust that caked the old Betamax tapes they were recorded to was removed to make the print look any better. But it is a TV show, so at least it still looks like what it did when it first aired. DVD "Outrage Level" = medium, my "Outrage Level" = medium.
It's a dead heat now, only one last category to settle the score: extra features. Let's take a look. The disc contains a trailer for the movie The Sweetest Thing. Okay, nice, not very relevant to the Bundys, but trailers are on everything these days. I've heard they are even putting them before movies now, instead of "trailing" them at the end. Weird, I know, but what are you gonna do? So what else, let's see. There's a Salute to Sinatra and something called TV Comedy Favorites. Both are commercials. Shameless self-promotion. Wait, that's it? Nothing else? Not even shameless fluff pieces? What a jip! DVD "Outrage Level" = medium, my "Outrage Level" = rocky mountain high.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Okay, I'll admit, if you are a fan of the series, none of what I've said really matters to you anyway. There is probably carefully constructed subtext that I am missing buried beneath the hands down the pants gags and toilets flushing, but I really didn't feel the need to go searching for it on this disc.
I've seen interviews of the cast off camera as perfectly normal and sane individuals, almost nothing like their former on-screen personas. The actors do give an excellent job portraying their respective roles, from Christina Applegate's blonde-bimbo Kelly to Ed O'Neill's chauvinistic, thick-headed Al.
Sniff sniff. What's that I smell? Could it be Peg's atrocious cooking? No, this smells more like dip to me. That can only mean that a double-dip is surely on the way. We've all seen these "best of" releases before, only to have the entire season released later; Friends comes to mind. Unless you have to have your Bundy now, don't waste your money buying this poor release.
In light of the evidence, Al Bundy is free to go with time served, for this court finds that his 8th Amendment rights have been trampled on unmercifully. Columbia TriStar is sentenced to be married, with children in tow, to Peg Bundy, until such time that they release a proper season by season DVD set.
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Scales of Justice
• A Salute to Sinatra
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